Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) announced her bid for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election on February 14. Haley is the first of several expected Republicans to challenge former President Donald Trump officially, complicating the dynamic between Haley and her former boss as the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under former President Donald Trump.
“The Washington establishment has failed us over and over again,” Haley said in her campaign video. “It’s time for a new generation of leadership.”
Haley is the first woman of color to run for the Republican presidential nomination. In the video, Haley referenced her family’s immigrant roots.
“The railroad tracks divided the town by race,” Haley said. “I was the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. Not Black, not White—I was different.”
Despite these references to racial divides in her hometown, Haley firmly relied on vaguely-defined national history and ideals as tenets of her campaign.
“Some look at our past as evidence that America’s founding principles are bad,” Haley’s voice said over footage of the 1619 Project and footage of U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Some think our ideas are not just wrong, but racist and evil. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Though Haley’s only current opponent for the nomination is former President Donald Trump, Haley never mentioned his name in her 3.5 minute-long campaign announcement. However, though she did not explicitly engage with Trump’s claim that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, she nevertheless endorsed Biden as the rightful winner while demonstrating a popularity crisis in the Republican party.
“Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections,” said Haley. “That record has got to change.”
Haley has demonstrated a rocky relationship with Trump, previously supporting and opposing him. During the early days of Trump’s 2016 candidacy, Haley opposed him, calling Trump “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president.” Then, at the 2020 Republican National Convention, Haley vouched for Trump, claiming that Trump “has always put America first, and he has earned four more years as president.” After the January 6 insurrection, Haley strongly rebuked Trump’s encouragement, saying Trump’s “actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”
On February 15, Trump commented on Haley’s announcement on Truth Social. “She’s polling at 1%, not a bad start!!!” Trump wrote.
The Democratic National Committee similarly issued a statement shortly after the release of Haley’s campaign video.
“Haley’s entrance officially kicks off a messy 2024 primary race for the MAGA base that has long been brewing,” the Democratic National Committee wrote in a February 14 statement. “Everyone get your popcorn.”
There are other Republicans rumored or expected to be considering running for the nomination. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is widely expected to become Trump’s most serious challenger, though not the only one. In recent weeks, former Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) have visited Iowa to campaign—a classic first step for presidential hopefuls, as Iowa is the first state to vote in the Republican nomination campaign. Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Mike Pompeo also recently published a book with an inside look at the Trump Administration, potentially hinting at a run for the nomination.
To conclude her announcement, Haley struck a fighting posture accentuated with her positionality as the only Republican woman candidate.
“I don’t put up with bullies,” said Haley. “And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels.”